Special to GCNO – Ram football and Jefferson memories – 50 years ago

Editor’s note: Click here for a live link to clippings Wand sent with his column.

~by Kevin Wand, Class of ’69 and 25-year Navy veteran

Fifty years ago last month, 45 high school varsity football players from Jefferson Community High School started preseason training. That fall the Class of ‘69 was entering its final year in school and there were 12 seniors on the team.

The hopes for a successful season were low because the team was too small, too slow and had very few returning letterman. The conference was also stacked with three perennial powerhouses: Audubon, Harlan and Denison. The opening game with Guthrie Center was also predicted to be a loss.

By the end of the season none of this had come true. The Rams played the final game for a share of the conference title and a 7-1 record. The Rams did win the last game of the season. After the season the Rams were ranked 19th in the state. Back then there was only one class ranking for all the football teams in the state. East Waterloo was #1 and Dowling was #2. The Rams felt they should have been ranked 15th because Guthrie Center was ranked 16th. The Rams beat Guthrie.

This success involved just not the 11 players on the field, but a whole lot of other people who were involved in supporting the team. We had great coaches (Ray Byrnes, Tony Andrusyk and Marshall Tonnies) and trainers.

Our student body support was second to none lead by our cheerleaders. We usually had two or three pep buses carrying students to out-of-town games. Harlan was a two-hour trip. Our classmate Tim Donovan provided some great camera photos for the newspaper plus he wrote fantastic post-game write-ups.

We also had great family and community support for this team. Many people attended the games both at home and away. As the saying goes: “It takes a village to raise a child.” I would also say it took a village to have a successful football team that year.

I believe the Class of ‘69 had a huge role in leadership in its senior year at Jefferson Community High School. This class was already showing the skills and qualities they would need to be a success in life.

In music, the marching band provided wonderful support throughout the year. We had a great jazz band, along with the Bushmen and the Elm Street Grocery. All three of these groups made their mark in Iowa history. The Class of 69 also won the homecoming float four years in a row. I believe that record still stands.

Coach Brynes, after the season, paid a compliment to the senior class by saying – “They are a bunch of overachievers.” After graduation my classmates went on to many different walks of life, and from what I’ve heard there have been many success stories. Whether this be from teaching, farming, military career, healthcare, legal, or probably most of all – the most important job in the world – being a parent.

My classmates and I owe a big “THANK YOU” to Sue O’Bryan Wind for keeping our class in contact and very informed over the last 30 years. Our class size was 125 people. We now have 111 people on our email list and Sue is responsible for that. Some of those did not graduate with us.

The football season that fall was a season filled with memories. The first game against Guthrie Center was a big surprise because the Rams were 19-point underdogs, but the Rams ended up winning 27-6. The second game against Audubon the Rams lost. From then on, the Rams went undefeated for the remaining six games. There was only one touchdown scored on the Ram defense in the last five games.

Before the last game there was an editorial written by the editor of the Bee and Herald that discussed the qualities of the team (10/28/68) (THE JEFFERSON BEE, Editorials “A Lifetime of Memories”)

This editorial of memories from a successful football season can also carry over to growing up in Jefferson.

Whenever I speak with my classmates or email them, we all agree that growing up in Jefferson was a great memory for us. We feel so grateful to have been born and raised in a community like Jefferson. I’ve traveled all over the world with the Navy, had many wonderful experiences in life, but I can truly say growing up in Jefferson was my best memory.

When I think of Jefferson, Iowa, I think of one of Frank Sinatra’s theme songs – “Thanks for the Memory.”

Thank you, Jefferson, Iowa!! You are the BEST!!

(Dr Kevin Wand D.O., Bloomington, MN)

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